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Two SUVs side by side - one EV and one the petrol/diesel equivalent

Drivers of SUVs could save nearly 9M tonnes of CO2 a year by switching to an electric version

By EDF | Posted September 14, 2021
  • Worldwide demand for SUVs up 21.6% - but carbon emissions from these vehicles is nearly 10% higher than the average
  • SUVs on UK roads are contributing 8.7million tonnes of CO2 to the environment every year - the equivalent of 5.2million return flights from London to New York
  • Despite two thirds (65%) of SUV drivers believing switching to an EV is an environmentally better option, only half (53%) are considering making the switch
  • Almost half (48%) are unaware the nation’s most popular SUV models are available as electric vehicles – meaning they could switch without compromising on body type.

Drivers of gas-guzzling SUVs could save Britain at least 8.7 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year, helping Britain in its goal to achieve Net Zero, if they were all to switch to an equivalent electric vehicle (EV)1 version of an SUV, according to new research from EDF.

SUVs are growing in popularity worldwide, reaching the highest level of demand for any body type2 - however average carbon emissions from these vehicles are nearly 10% higher than the average car3. Analysis conducted by EDF found that the 4.2million petrol and diesel SUVs on UK roads will emit around 8.7m tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, when driven an average of 7,400 miles. That’s the equivalent of 5.2million return flights from London to New York4.

By comparison, running an electric SUV would contribute no carbon dioxide emissions to the environment if charged using a regulated renewable tariff, such as EDF’s GoElectric tariff5.

Consumer research commissioned by EDF6 revealed that, despite SUVs being the second largest cause of the global rise in CO2 emissions over the past decade7, their impact on the environment is only the eighth most important consideration (35%) for drivers when purchasing a new model. It lies behind the cost to run (51%), size of the boot (48%) and whether it runs off petrol, diesel or is a hybrid (47%). In comparison, only a quarter (26%) of SUV drivers state that they would consider whether the model is an EV prior to purchasing.

The research also reveals that despite over 6 in 10 (65%) SUV drivers believing switching to an EV is an environmentally better option, and a ban on the sale of new ICE vehicles due to come into force in 2030, only 53% are considering making the switch in the next 5-10 years.

The main barriers for drivers of petrol and diesel vehicles to going electric include concerns about the costs of purchasing an EV (70%) and limited access to charge points (63%), alongside concerns around lengthy charging times and the cost of installing a home charging point putting off over half of British motorists (53%).

Despite these concerns, those who own EVs are positive about their experiences, with over half claiming that EVs perform much better than a petrol/diesel vehicle (53%) and that they can fully charge their vehicle for under a fiver overnight using a home charge-point (51%).

Of those petrol and diesel SUV drivers who are looking to make the switch to electric, over half (53%) said they would do so in a bid to tackle climate change, with a third (33%) believing going electric will save them money in the long run.

The research demonstrated that almost half of British motorists (48%) don’t realise that the equivalent SUV is available from certain manufacturers in both petrol, diesel and EV models - despite some of the most popular models having EV counterparts - with a third (32%) of non-SUV drivers stating that they would consider purchasing an SUV if they didn’t have such a large environmental impact.

What’s more, only a fifth (19%) of SUV drivers are aware that, when taking into consideration fuel and leasing costs, the cost to run an EV SUV is less than running a petrol/diesel equivalent model. Cost and carbon savings over the course of three years can be made on popular SUV models including the Peugeot e-2008 and BMW iX3 – as well as across the full range of body types including hatchbacks, coupes and saloon EVs. 

EV SUV model

Petrol / diesel counterpart


Average C02 emissions savings p/year of EV model

Average savings to lease & run the EV model for 3 years8

Peugeot e-2008

Peugeot 2008 (1.2-litre PureTech 130)

1.42 tonnes



MG ZS Exclusive 1.0T GDi

1.94 tonnes



BMW X3 M40i

2.12 tonnes


Audi eTron SUV

Audi Q8 Estate 55 TFSI

2.89 tonnes


The carbon savings from making the switch to an EV today – whether SUV, hatchback or saloon – will be highest using a regulated renewable EV tariff such as EDF’s 100% zero carbon GoElectric tariff. Drivers using a standard tariff based on today’s average grid mix of 182g/kWh9 would save less carbon. However in future if Britain achieves the 10g/kwh grid mix by 2035, the Climate Change Committee says is needed to be on net zero pathway10, then the saving from today’s SUV drivers switching to EVs would be around 8.7m tonnes of CO2 - even if using the grid average to charge.

Philippe Commaret, Managing Director for Customers at EDF commented: “SUVs have grown in popularity in recent years, with drivers attracted by the style and space they offer. But it seems that drivers are unaware that they can cut their carbon footprint without compromising on body type.

“With a wide range of popular SUV styles available in EV models, making the switch can allow drivers to do their bit for the environment and help Britain achieve Net Zero, without compromising on design or comfort.

“As Britain’s biggest generator of zero carbon electricity, we’re committed to making it as easy as possible for motorists to make the switch to an EV. By charging using our 100% zero carbon GoElectric35 tariff, drivers can reduce the annual CO2 emissions from their vehicle to zero.”

To make the transition to electric vehicles hassle-free, EDF offers its GoElectric35 tariff11 specifically for charging electric vehicles at home, allowing customers to charge their car for under a fiver, whilst they sleep. The 100% zero carbon renewable tariff offers 35 hours of off-peak energy per week at just 4.5p/kWh (5 hours off-peak between 12-5am GMT daily).

Through its partnerships with Drive Electric and Pod Point, EDF makes it easy to switch to electric motoring, providing customers with access to a range of electric vehicle offerings from chargers for home, electric vehicle leasing, and three different tariff options to suit their lifestyle.

For further information about EDF’s range of tariff options, please visit: GoElectric EV tariffs for your car and home

For more information contact: 

EDF Press Office: 

Notes to Editors:

  1. Calculations:
    1. Estimated emissions from SUVs based on % of total cars: 8.7 MT CO2
    2. Estimated total direct emissions per annum from EV SUVs: 0 MT CO2 (*when charged using EDF’s GoElectric tariff)
    3. Total annual savings if switch all current petrol and diesel SUVs on UK roads switched to EVs today: at least 8.7 MT CO2
    4. EDF's EV tariffs are backed with 100% zero carbon renewable electricity. Electricity for EDF's GoElectric tariff comes from renewable sources like wind, solar, biomass, tidal and hydroelectric. At the end of each fuel mix reporting year, EDF will make sure they've purchased enough renewable electricity from EDF owned renewable generation to match the total volume of electricity supplied to all their customers on the GoElectric tariff. A fuel mix reporting year begins on 1 April and ends on 31 March the following year. UK Fuel Mix disclosure information published by the Government (DESNZ), recognises electricity from wind, solar and nuclear fuel produces zero carbon dioxide emissions at the point of generation. See EDF's tariff table for more information.GoElectric EV tariffs for your car and home
  2. SUV demand remains high as they take eight of 10 fastest selling spots
  3. CO2 g/km of SUVs = 134 CO2 g/km average - 122.4 Average CO2 emissions from new cars and new vans increased again in 2019
  4. C02 emissions p/passenger of a return flight from London to New York - 1.65 tonnes - Flight carbon footprint calculator
  5. Comparison has been conducted between direct emissions/emissions at point of use, NOT lifecycle emissions (i.e. manufacturing of the car etc)
  6. Research conducted by OnePoll of 2,000 UK motorists between 20th and 26th August 2021
  7. Global SUV emissions: SUVs second biggest cause of emissions rise, figures reveal
  8. All figures are correct as of 09/09/21, reflecting latest fuel costs and live leasing deals
  9. 2020 grid carbon intensity from the Climate Change Committee -  Progress in reducing emissions 2021 The CCC Report to Parliament
  10. Climate Change Committee: The Sixth Carbon Budget Electricity generation - The CCC The Sixth Carbon Budget Electricity generation
  11. For further information about EDF’s Go Electric 35 Tariff, please visit: GoElectric EV tariffs for your car and home.The Go Electric 35 Tariff enables motorists to charge their car for under a fiver, whilst they sleep (EV charging based on using a 7kW home charger and EDF’s GoElectric 35 tariff at 4.5p/Kwh off-peak.)).

About EDF in the UK

EDF is helping Britain achieve Net Zero by leading the transition to a cleaner, low emission electric future and tackling climate change. We are Britain’s biggest generator of zero carbon electricity, meeting around one-fifth of the country’s demand and supplying millions of customers with electricity and gas.

With around 5 million accounts, EDF is one of the largest suppliers to British homes and businesses and a leading supplier of innovative energy solutions that are helping businesses become more energy independent. All of our home and small business customers get energy tariffs backed by zero carbon electricity as standard.

We generate low carbon electricity from eight nuclear power stations, more than thirty onshore wind farms and two offshore wind farms. Wind, nuclear and solar all produce electricity that is zero carbon at the point of generation and have similar emissions over the build, run and retire lifecycles.

EDF is leading the UK's nuclear renaissance with the construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C, and is leading the development of plans for a replica at Sizewell C in Suffolk. Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C will provide low carbon electricity to meet 14% of UK demand and power around 12 million homes.

EDF is one of the UK’s largest investors in renewables, with 1GW of renewable generation in operation and over 4GW in construction, planning and development across a range of technologies including onshore and offshore wind, solar and battery storage. We are constructing our largest offshore wind farm in Britain – the 450 MW Neart na Gaoithe project in Scotland which will be ready in 2023.

Our energy services business, Imtech, is one of the largest technical service providers in the UK and Ireland.

EDF is part of EDF Group, the world’s biggest electricity generator. In the UK we employ around 13,000 people.

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